December 12, 2014 by phicks2012
The other day while playing an on-line game I chanced to fall into conversation with another player who piqued my interest because he said he wrote poetry. The verses he shared with me were actually rather good, if generally depressing, but as I continued chatting with him over the course of days I discovered to my dismay that I was talking to a fourteen year old boy whose outlook on life (despite his undeniable talent) was almost unremittantly dour — who claimed that he had no real friends, who invented holidays to commemorate his worst experiences, who preferred texting to real life interactions, and who claimed to have numerous acquaintances with suicidal and/or self mutilation tendencies. Folks, this is me shivering, because this was SCARY!
I remember being that age, and agonizing over things that in retrospect — and only a very few years later — seemed laughably minor. Like everyone else, I had adolescent angst to spare. There were times when I thought I’d just DIE if I didn’t get asked to some party, but I NEVER considered killing or harming myself. There were times when I was bullied so constantly that I really HATED my tormenters, but I NEVER considered taking a weapon to school and actually harming anyone. Tell me, are those impulses really so much more prevalent these days, or did I grow up in a fairy tale?
I like being with real people, as opposed to the texting and chatting on-line that these days seems so often to supplant actual social contact, and in my entire life I’ve known only a scant handful of people who’ve killed themselves — none of them close friends. I’ve never had a friend or close aquaintance, to my knowledge, who deliberately harmed themselves to get attention — even those who suffered from clinical or situational depression — and the people I’ve considered real friends, whatever their age, all have been intelligent, generally upbeat people blessed with common sense, reasonable self esteem, and a good sense of humor.
But this young man responded on-line to almost every single positive or humorous comment I made with a negative, shrugged off every good thing I brought up, and kept talking about listening to deathcore music to put himself into an unfeeling “stupor” so that he could “survive” the agony that was his existence. I found myself both very much wanting to help him find some balance and humor in his very young life, wanting desperately to escape the ceaseless negativity — RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY!! — and wondering if this kid was going to wind up eventually featured on the eleven o’clock news. 😦
For a while I wondered if the point was moot, because he suddenly stopped talking to me, or at least being friendly when he did, so I was guessing that his on-line interactions with me failed to supply him with whatever he was looking for, and that maybe what he was looking for wasn’t a friend who would try to help him see the positives in life, but rather a kindred spirit to share and to vindicate/justify his truly depressing negativity. How sad.
Fortunately, he now seems to be responding more to my positive vibes, so I’m hoping for the best. I’d like to think I might had made some POSITIVE impact on another life.
In any case, I’ve been thinking about this and about other interactions over the years, and I suspect that what they say about “opposites attracting” only really works with magnetic fields. I believe that positive people tend to attract other positive people, and that negative people must, in the same fashion, attract other negative people. “Misery loves Company”, as my mother used to say, and “Merriment” undoubtedly “loves company” too.
I think that’s why the people around me tend generally to be reasonably funny (some are REALLY funny, and certainly a lot funnier than I am) and mostly optomistic, and why this kid seemed (by his own admission) to be surrounded by folks who (based upon his descriptions) might not know a positive thought if it bit them on the butt. It’s probably also why people who love discussing in lurid detail their various physical ailments and symptoms can actually find other people with the same (often truly disgusting) conversational habit. 😉
I’m not saying I don’t have negative impulses, or times when I need to vent anger or frustration, or that I don’t have friends needing to do the same from time to time. I certainly do, and they tell me that depression tends to be more prevalent at this time of year, but I probably don’t have “Debbie and Dudley Downer” for bosom buddies because I tend to draw away (okay, sometimes I actually SPRINT away) from constant negativity, and because I don’t consider people without a known or demonstrable positive impulse to be, by definition, “friends”. I mean, if all they ever do is bring me down, then there’s really very little incentive for me to want to be around them when I’d much rather laugh than mope.
So here’s to Positivity! The next time you find yourself sighing heavily and responding to every humorous foray with pathos and angst-laden commentary on how badly your world sucks, stop, take a deep breath, TAKE YOUR MEDS (if necessary), and get over it! This is the holiday season!!! Make an actual effort to somehow make it better, or audition for a soap opera. 😉 Actually have a Merry Christmas, and I’ll try to do the same.
Ho! Ho! Ho!